Girls Trip

Comedies featuring a group of friends travelling to a destination aren’t new. Dozens of recent examples like ‘Bridesmaids’ and the ‘Hangover’ movies have appealed to audiences. Whilst a few have indulged in gross-out toilet humour for laughs, others have tried to conjure more sophisticated ways in raising mirth. ‘Girls Trip’ is halfway between with a focus on the emotional bonds that friends share. It is graced with an energetic cast who remember to have fun even when their characters behave very badly.

Ryan (Regina Hall), Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Dina (Tiffany Haddish) are lifelong friends. Wanting to take a weekend vacation to a music festival in New Orleans, they hit the road ready for adventure. Ladies, who have had mixed fortunes in their personal lives, use the time away to reflect on where they’ve been. With wild times and tested friendships ahead, the four-some discover more about each other and the unbreakable union they share.

‘Girl Trip’ shows how far movie comedies have come. In the 50’s the humour relied on style and wit with the decades since gradually descending into the gutter for laughs. Those who find bodily function jokes hilarious will get that here. But beneath the undignified carry-on, ‘Girls Trip’ has interesting things to say about how time changes people and the notion of friendship. There are good messages amidst the smut which makes it regrettable that the screenplay felt it needed to enter the realms of unspeakable vulgarity.

For its many faults, ‘Girls Trip’ is enlivened by the leads’ chemistry. You feel they have been genuine friends for years with the performers knowing how to successfully deliver a comedic retort. The antics they get up to feel familiar and it doesn’t break new ground. The moments away from the grotesque sewer-like jokes are its best with fully formed characters trying to cope with life. New Orleans looks amazing and becomes an exotic bystander to the ladies’ unending wickedness.

Hardly a classy affair, ‘Girls Trip’ moderately succeeds in being truly amusing. Fans of ‘end of pier’-style laugh-fests may enjoy it with its dramatic moments more bearable. You can’t fault the casts’ enthusiasm with these types of comedies still finding favour amongst easily pleased viewers.

Rating out of 10: 5

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Chemistry is an important part of a film’s success. If the leads fail to gel as a believable team, a movie can quickly sink. Whether it is romance, drama, comedy or action, chemistry plays a huge role in driving the story along which ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ highlights. With the ever breezy Ryan Reynolds and the consistently bad-ass Samuel L Jackson as leads, ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ already has much going for it. It needs to as their presence enlivens a very predictable screenplay with a plot failing to match their spirited performances.

Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is an in-demand bodyguard whose skills are second to none. After a case goes horribly wrong, his reputation is in tatters. When enlisted to protect notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson), Bryce enthusiastically accepts. Seizing the chance to salvage his ruined career, Bryce gradually learns why Kincaid needs protection. Having information that could put evil dictator Vladislav (Gary Oldman) in jail for life, Kincaid is a wanted man. When Vladislav sends an army of killers on their trail, Bryce and Kincaid form a reluctant partnership in order to survive.

A word that could describe ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ is ‘bland’. Whilst Jackson and Reynolds deliver rousing performances and the action is incredible, the script is banal. Those who haven’t seen an action movie in the last decade may be surprised by its revelations, although others may get a sense of déjà vu. Director Patrick Hughes tries hard putting flair into the by the numbers screenplay, but even his enthusiasm can’t hide the overlong film’s general ho-hum nature.

‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ thrives on its action scenes. They are incredibly realised and use the foreign locales well. The stunt-work gone into creating these sequences is amazing with the performers giving them their all. The banter between Jackson and Reynolds is great even if tonally the film is all over the place. The minor exploration of the nature of good and evil gives things vague depth but generally the plot gives way to the action which is its main asset.

Having genuinely funny moments and plenty of colourful pizazz, ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ is silly hokum. It isn’t that memorable and could have benefited with copious editing. For a ‘no-brain’ action comedy, it achieves its target and is dopey fun if you like no-frills thrills.

Rating out of 10: 6